In the depths of jnana, vairagya and so on, and behind all religion, lies… the desire for honour, name, fame, distinction and adoration.
To the degree that we endeavour to develop ourselves spiritually, to become religious, to maintain a renounced life, and to deliberate on and discuss jnana, we desire our own pratishtha (honour and distinction). This desire contaminates our hearts and pollutes our characters.
Although we make a great effort to control lust, anger, greed, illusion and envy, and although we perform severe austerities to control the senses, concealed within our hearts the desire for pratishtha, in the form of a wild infant animal, continues to grow.
It was Christ Jesus who first said “Love God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and love man as thy brother.”
This is an absolute truth indeed; but different men put different interpretations to this noble expression. The expressions of all great men are nice but somewhat mysterious—when understood they bring the truth nearest to the heart; otherwise they remain mere letters that “kill”.
The reason of the mystery is that men, advanced in their inward approach to the Deity, are in the habit of receiving revelations which are but mysteries to those that are behind them.
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The Vedas teach us according to Chaitanya, nine principles, doctrines, that is:
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Our foremost duty is to understand the true nature of shuddha-bhakti.
Unfortunately, in present day society in the name of shuddha-bhakti various types of mixed devotion such as karma-mishra (mixed with fruitive action), jnana-mishra (mixed with speculative knowledge) and yoga-mishra (mixed with various types of yoga processes) as well as various polluted and imaginary conceptions are spreading everywhere like germs of plague.
Our previous acaryas have compiled numerous literatures to establish the svarupa of bhakti, and amongst them Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu is the most beneficial.
Uttama-bhakti means the stage where the devotional creeper is in its completely pure or uncontaminated form.
What are the svarupa-lakshana or intrinsic attributes of bhakti? To answer this question it is said that bhakti is anukulyena krsnanushilana, the cultivation of activities which are meant exclusively for the pleasure of Sri Krsna.
In the main verse the word krsnanushilanam has been used.
The purport of this is that Svayam Bhagavan Sri Krsna is the sole ultimate objective indicated by the term kevala-bhakti (exclusive devotion).
Those who try to perceive the Absolute Truth through the cultivation of jnana cannot realise anything beyond brahma-tattva.
By the cultivation of jnana it will appear that impersonal brahma is the supreme tattva.
Here the subtlety is that jnana itself is material, meaning in the material world whatever knowledge we acquire or whatever principle (siddhanta) we establish is done by depending solely upon material attributes.
Those who pursue the path of yoga in the end arrive only at realisation of the all-pervading paramatma-tattva.
Absolute truth realised exclusively through the process of bhakti is called Bhagavan.
In Bhakti-sandarbha the characteristics of bhagavat-tattva are described as “pari-purna-sarva-shakti-vishishta-bhagavan iti”: the complete Absolute Truth endowed with all transcendental potencies is called Bhagavan.
Out of these three manifestations of the Absolute Truth (Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan), it is only the manifestation of Bhagavan’s personal form which is the object of bhakti.
Although from the viewpoint of siddhanta Narayana and Krsna are non-different, Krsna is superior due to possessing more rasa.
As it is imperative to abandon the desire for bhukti, it is equally important to abandon the desire for mukti.
To remain free from and uncovered by tendencies such as those for jnana and karma is another marginal characteristic of bhakti.
Now I will explain the gradual development of bhakti starting from its seed-form of shraddha.
It is to be understood clearly that as soon as the seed of shraddha is sown in the heart, immediately Bhakti-devi appears there.
If Shraddha-devi is not properly nurtured with the utmost care, she will be polluted by the germs, termites, mosquitoes and unhealthy environment of the processes of jnana, renunciation, impersonal conceptions, sankhya and so forth.
Now, by carefully reviewing all the previous statements, we can understand that to remain uncovered by jnana, karma and so forth — which means accepting them as subservient entities — and engage in the favorable cultivation of activities meant to please Sri Krsna which are devoid of any other desire is called uttama-bhakti.
In the previous articles, the intrinsic nature of shuddha-bhakti has been explained.
Having carefully reviewed all the instructions of our predecessor acaryas, in summary form we are presenting their heartfelt sentiments in the following verse:
yad bhaktyabhasa-lesho ’pi dadati phalam uttamam
tamananda-nidhim krsna-caitanyam samupasmahe
It has already been stated that the natural and unadulterated endeavour of the infinitesimal consciousness, the jiva, towards the complete consciousness, Krsna, is called bhakti.
Srila Rupa Goswami has not given a separate analysis of bhakti-abhasa in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu.
Within the first half of the verse “anyabhilashita-shunyam jnana-karmady anavritam” he has given a complete yet hidden explanation of bhakti-abhasa.
Srila Jiva Goswami says, “ tasman nirupadhitvam eva rater mukhyasvarupatvam sopadhitvam abhashatvam tattva gaunya vrittya pravarttamanatvam iti,” which means that when bhakti is unadulterated, it is svarupa-bhakti or devotion in its intrinsic state, but when bhakti is adulterated, then it is called bhakti-abhasa.
Pratibimba-bhakti-abhasa can be divided into 3 categories: